The DMX protocol is basically the same as the RS485 protocol, so we can use any RS485 USB converter to control DMX devices. DMX controllers are usually not that cheap, using this guide, you save money for possibly a hardware MIDI controller for your lighting software.
Before you start using this guide, I want you to know there is a second tutorial available on creating a USB-DMX controller using an RJ45 cable HERE
- RS485 Adapter that uses an FTDI RS232 Serial Chip (Buy Here, Here, Here), I got the one as shown in the image below but any USB to RS485 converter that is based on an FTDI RS232
- Female (Chassis) XLR connector (Buy Here, Here, Here)
- (Optional) ABS Enclosure (Buy Here)
The USB-RS485 converter has the following 3 to 6 connectors:
- A or Tx+ or +Data or +ve
- B or Tx- or -Data or -ve
- GND or GROUND or 0V
- (optional) 5V or VCC
- (optional) Rx-
- (optional) Rx+
We only need the 3 connections, the GND,Data+ and DATA- are the only connections required for sending a DMX signal. These 3 signals correspond to the 3 pins/holes in a XLR connector:
The connections of the XLR/DMX plug as numbered above are:
Now it’s simple, just connect the corresponding ground and data outputs and your DMX Dongle is ready:
- Connect GND of your RS485 to pin #1 of your XLR
- Data-/TX- of your RS485 goes to pin #2 of you XLR
- Data+/TX+ of your RS485 goes to pin #3 of your XLR
Try to keep these wires as short as possible, long wires may add extra interference… if experiencing problems, try twisting the data+ and data- wires. I used regular cat5e networking cable for the wiring.
Not all devices seem to work out of the box, below is a Fix for those devices that are not sending DMX:
Here are a few fixes for if your board does not send DMX, Please leave a comment on the fix you tried. It would be a great help for anyone having problems with this board in the future.
- Try terminating your DMX chain, this may solve your problems.
- FT_PROG FIX YOUR FTDI RS485 DMX INTERFACE
- DMX RS485 WRONG BOARD FIX
I recently got a reply from “Pepe” suggesting a new Fix that will fix unstable DMX adapters.
I bought this one and is working, and I see a small modification here on my chip out of the box. There are two shorted pins (as I remember I try to short some pins to get continuous work. maybe that was that case that was working for me)
I attaching a diagram (Make sure to check the orientation of the chip (you can test it by shorting reset and VCC) so maybe this is another Fix (for those wich get it work for few minutes and then it fail) http://prntscr.com/7yvfmb
Ps a AGDD+test pin are conected to maing ground ( GDN + PWR Led (a GDN side)
Hopefully, this will help.
I would like to Thank “Absolete Frosty” for making a very detailed English video tutorial for this guide.
Part #1 – Hardware:
Part #2 – Software:
Windows: The best free software available(for windows) is Freestyler DMX, download and install HERE.
Now in settings choose the interface “Enttec open DMX“.. this device is based on an RS485 and works with any RS485 device.
Now click save, add your fixtures and start programming your show.
Other Software :
Mac: QLC+, Download Here. Personally, I find this the easiest, best program there is for free.
***Other compatible software :
Martin M-Series Software + (Fixture Library)
(Mac Appstore)JV Lightning DmxControl free and pro
DMX Signal randomly stops:
– Try plugging your DMX Adapter in a POWERED! hub (with external power supply) this may fix random stops.
What software can I use? :
The FTPI chip should work without manual driver installation, if the default windows drivers aren’t working for you you can try downloading & installing these drivers:
Normal LED behavior :
Plugged in, not sending: Red Led
Pugged in & Sending: Red Led ON & Green LED Flashing
Small, quick and easy test software?:
kmtronic.com DMX Tester
QLC+ won’t work:
The Mavericks update broke DMX output on mac’s, you need to replace your FTDI driver with an older version.
Other problems try these:
– Try on different computers & always try the windows driver first.
– (laptop) Try unplugging the power adapter & try again
– When trying, only use 1 DMX light, if these works try adding more lights to the chain.
– more solutions in the comments below.
Sending DMX :
Confirmed not working RS485 adapters :
Pro 5ft. USB to RS485-RS422 Converter with FTDI Chip
Prolific USB to serial adapter (uses pl2303)
Any MAX485 Adapter : (image provided by marmil)
Photo’s of your creation can be mailed to email@example.com, these images will be added to this post to help other users create their device.
Thanks to kefke44 for creating a 3D printable enclosure for this build. Free to download Here.